PFL 3 2023: Stevie Ray Struggled to Find Motivation After Loss in Last Year’s Final

Las Vegas — Scottish lightweight Stevie Ray knows all too well that MMA brings the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, emotionally.

Following a disheartening knockout loss at the hands of Olivier Aubin-Mercier in last year’s PFL finale, Ray (25-11) is back to work at the 2023 PFL 3 card on Friday. He’ll take on Natan Schulte, a former two-time PFL champion.

Ahead of the fight, Ray admitted that he did struggle with motivation following last year’s setback.

“I did struggle after that loss, motivation-wise. To think like, go through another gruelling year,” Ray told media outlets including Cageside Press this week. “The motivation wasn’t great at the start of the camp, to get back to training, all that. But now that we’re getting closer and I’ve got an opponent, yeah, I’m motivated now. It’s just like, you get knocked down, get back up again, try again. I know that I’m potentially four fights away from winning a million dollars again.”

In terms of his approach this year, Ray added it will be “one fight at a time, go in there and smash it.”

Brazil’s Schulte, Ray noted, is “a good opponent. He’s well-rounded. To be honest, everybody in the division, thinking about who I want — they’ve all got different challenges. Natan looks fairly well-rounded, I do believe I’m better on the ground and on the feet. I’ll give him the judo advantage, he’s got an advantage in judo, but we’re not doing judo. And he is dangerous. Most judo guys, if they get on top of you, they’re heavy, they’re strong.”

Ray has had a considerable distraction outside the cage heading into this fight, as his daughter requires brain surgery, something we spoke to him about in-depth earlier this month.

A GoFundMe easily surpassed its goal to help secure Myla Natalie Ray life-changing surgery. The response to that campaign was “just so overwhelming for all the community to come together,” Ray noted. “A lot of it was the MMA community, as well as complete strangers.”

“It was good for me and my wife to just get the story out, because there were even some people close to us that were like, hadn’t realized what was going on and what was needed and how serious it could be. So yeah, pretty cool, pretty overwhelming.”

Watch the full 2023 PFL 3 media day appearance by Stevie Ray above.


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